Freight movement as measured by the BTS Freight Transportation Services index is down, relative to trend.
Figure 1: BTS Freight Transportation Services Index, in logs, HP filtered (blue), and Hamilton filtered, using two years lead-lag span (red). NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: BTS via FRED, author’s calculations.
January figures are not out yet, but if the Cass Freight System numbers are any guide, they will show a decline (I use a first diffs log specification between the BTS series and CPI deflated expenditures series to predict January).
Figure 2: BTS Freight Transportation Services Index, in logs (light blue), and estimated (blue square). January based on first differences regression on Cass deflated expenditures index. Source: BTS, Cass Freight Systems, via FRED, author’s calculations.
These trends are consistent with decreased movement in goods that is associated with the manufacturing sector recession, as well as the decrease in international trade. I do not think the impact of Covid-19 should be showing up much even in the January estimate.